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In response to comment by Jade on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: Salemicus 12 January 2017 11:36:08AM 0 points [-]

Would you say the origins of other religions become more mysterious if there never were whatever magical beings those religions posit?

Yes, of course.

The least mysterious explanation of Paul Bunyan stories is that there really was a Paul Bunyan. And the closer the real Paul Bunyan hews to the Bunyan of the stories, the smaller the mystery. P(stories about Bunyan | Bunyan) > P(stories about Bunyan | !Bunyan).

But just because a story is simple, doesn't necessarily make it likely. We can't conclude from the above that P(Bunyan | stories about Bunyan) > P(!Bunyan | stories about Bunyan).

In response to comment by Salemicus on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: Jade 16 January 2017 03:00:52AM *  1 point [-]

You left out the 'magical' part of my question. If magical beings exist(ed), then everything becomes more mysterious. That's partly why we don't pester JK Rowling about what extra-special boy Harry Potter was based on. We don't even suspect comic superheros like Batman, who has no magic, to have been based on a real-life billionaire. We certainly don't have scholars wasting time looking for evidence of 'the real Batman.' Modern stories of unlikely events are easily taken as imaginings, yet when people bucket a story as 'old/traditonal', for some people, that bucket includes 'characters must've been real persons', as if humans must've been too stupid to have imagination. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fakelore

In response to comment by Jade on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: Salemicus 07 January 2017 12:15:36PM 1 point [-]

Neither sufficient nor necessary:

  • The origins of Christianity become more mysterious, not less, if there never was a Jesus.
  • We don't need to tie ourselves to a fringe hypothesis to posit non-supernatural origins for the Gospels.
In response to comment by Salemicus on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: Jade 11 January 2017 02:53:48AM 1 point [-]

Would you say the origins of other religions become more mysterious if there never were whatever magical beings those religions posit? Would you think it likely that Guanyin was real human of unknown gender? Do the origins of fictional stories become more mysterious if there never were the fictitious characters in the flesh? Did Paul Bunyan exist, as there were similar lumberjacks?

You're not supposed to tie yourself to any hypothesis, even if mainstream, but rather update your probability distributions. Bits of the NT weren't written until long enough after the supposed death of Jesus that people wouldn't have been like, 'Who you talkin' about?' And I doubt they would've cared whether the character existed, like no one cares whether Harry Potter existed, because it's the stories that matter.

In response to comment by Rixie on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: Salemicus 27 August 2013 08:20:22PM *  4 points [-]

If Jesus wasn't magic, where did the Bible even come from?

Some people wrote it down. That's also the Christian story of where the Bible came from.

There probably was something extra-special about Jesus, in the sense that he was highly charismatic, or persuasive, and so on. And his followers probably really did think that he'd come back from the dead, or at least that his body had mysteriously vanished. But none of that adds up to magic or divinity. Look at people in the current day - convinced (rightly or wrongly) in the existence of aliens, or homeopathy, or whatever else. "If L. Ron Hubbard wasn't magic, where did Dianetics come from?"

Alternatively, consider Joseph Smith. He's far more recent and far better-attested than Jesus, who also had a loyal group of followers who swore blind that they'd seen miracles - even the ones who later broke with him, and who after his death, carried on his teachings and founded a religion with the utmost seriousness and in the face of extreme hardship and sacrifice. Yet chances are you're not a Mormon (or, if you are a Mormon, consider Mohammed ibn Abdullah). Apply the same thinking to Jesus's life as you do to that of Josepth Smith, and see where it takes you.

In response to comment by Salemicus on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: Jade 10 December 2016 10:38:59PM 1 point [-]
Comment author: Larks 17 May 2013 01:17:17PM 11 points [-]

The best answer I know is Rawlsianism.

No! That is not Rawlsianism. Rawls was writing about how to establish principles of justice to regulate the major institutions of society; he was not establishing a decision procedure. I think you mean UDT.

Comment author: Jade 18 May 2013 02:07:35AM *  5 points [-]

elharo was referring to 'veil of ignorance,' a concept like UDT applied by Rawls to policy decision-making.

In response to comment by [deleted] on We Don't Have a Utility Function
Comment author: private_messaging 06 April 2013 10:25:36AM *  4 points [-]

In the above example, attempts to produce a most accurate estimate of the sum do a better job than attempts to produce most complete sum.

In general what you learn from applied mathematics is that plenty of methods that are in some abstract sense more distant from the perfect method have a result closer to the result of the perfect method.

E.g. the perfect method could evaluate every possible argument, sum all of them, and then decide. The approximate method can evaluate a least biased sample of the arguments, sum them, and then decide, whereas the method that tries to match the perfect method the most would sum all available arguments. If you could convince an agent that the latter is 'most rational' (which may be intuitively appealing because it does resemble the perfect method the most) and is what should be done, then in a complex subject where agent does not itself enumerate all arguments, you can feed arguments to that agent, biasing the sum, and extract profit of some kind.

Comment author: Jade 09 April 2013 11:46:14AM 3 points [-]
Comment author: Jade 21 January 2013 05:08:08AM *  0 points [-]

From what I've learned about brains, the left brain is engaged in symbolic thinking about a problem, which engages more logical, methodical problem-solving. For a combination that you won't arrive at through that approach, you have to give your brain, apparently involving activation of the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and other right-brain parts, more time to integrate info from stored memory or lower-level processed stimuli or to make novel associations related to the problem. When left prefrontal cortex is engaged in focusing on performing a task, it'll inhibit the processing of info seemingly irrelevant to the task. This is why aha/eureka moments are more likely when you're relaxed, not focused and your mind gets to wander (e.g. getting on bus while on vacation, taking a shower/bath). Studies suggest that more creative or sudden-insight (as opposed to deliberately trying different combinations) problem-solvers have greater right brain activity and lower inhibition of it.

Look up "Aha! moments" in the index of Eric Kandel's book, The Age of Insight, which cites many papers, incl. "Explaining and inducing savant skills: privileged access to lower level, less-processed information". A few of my other references: "Bayes for Schizophrenics: Reasoning in Delusional Disorders", "Creativity tied to mental illness", "Through the Wormhole: Creativity Cap"

Comment author: Jade 18 November 2012 11:04:40AM *  0 points [-]
Comment author: Jade 09 October 2012 06:04:30AM *  1 point [-]

Infants' behaviors predicted by Bayesian models

There's another argument that Bayesian theories of brains are just-so stories where whatever happens is optimal, the response being that Bayesian modelling is not the same as implying that brains are optimal, the counter-response being that "many Bayesian researchers often appear to be make claims regarding optimality". Finally, there's a call for unification between Bayesian and non-Bayesian theories: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21864419

Comment author: Nornagest 08 September 2012 03:12:20AM *  16 points [-]

I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable with this line of thinking. Sexuality isn't a physical need in the sense that, say, water is a physical need, but it is a pretty fundamental drive. It certainly doesn't morally oblige any particular person to fulfill it for you (analogously, the human need for companionship doesn't oblige random strangers to accept overtures of friendship), but it's sufficiently potent that I'd be cautious about casually demoting it below other social considerations, let alone suggesting sexual asceticism as a viable solution in the average case; that seems like an easy way to come up with eudaemonically suboptimal prescriptions.

Nice Guy (tm) psychology is something else again. I'm not sure how much of the popular view of it is anywhere near accurate, but in isolation I'd hesitate to take it as suggesting anything more than one particular pathology of sexual politics and maybe some interesting facts about the surrounding culture.

Comment author: Jade 08 September 2012 04:47:03AM *  -1 points [-]

We don't have to "casually demote" anything. Like Fox News says, "we report -- you decide."

Generally, "need" is used to refer to something perceived to be necessary in an optimization process. There are cases where a human doesn't need companionship, let alone sex (see recluses or transcendentalists' recommendations that persons isolate themselves from society for a while to clear their heads of irrationalities).

If "the average case" involves little luminosity of sexuality and lots of sexualization of beings, then of course sexual abstinence wouldn't be likely. Rape occurs in epidemic proportions in such places where people are also demoralized or decommissioned from doing much good work, like on reservations.

Nice Guy and Nice Gal are idealized gender roles for an optimal society. Some oppose gender roles to the extent that they limit persons from doing good, esp. when they make one gender subservient to the other or make a person of one gender subservient to another person of another gender (like the promulgated view that wife should serve husband). A person or AI caring only about one person or half the human population would not be optimal.

Comment author: hg00 07 September 2012 10:47:54PM *  6 points [-]

Yep. I'm arguing that creepy/misogynistic behavior may be an adaptation that fires when a man is feeling desperate.

It's weird because since thinking of this yesterday, I've noticed that it has a ton of explanatory power regarding my own feelings and behavior. And it actually offers a concrete solution to the problem of feeling creepy: hang out with more women. But I'm getting voted down both here and on reddit. I guess maybe I'm generalizing from myself improperly, and lack of social awarenesss is actually a much larger problem?

Hanging out with more women could also be a solution to lack of social awareness, by the way. In my experience, I naturally tend to start making friends with some of them, and in conversations I learn a lot more about how they think and feel.

Comment author: Jade 08 September 2012 02:46:21AM *  3 points [-]

Your theory fails to account for cases of creepiness among men surrounded by their targets (women, children, men, whatever). See my explanation.

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